By Jessica Frost, Executive Director of Industry Relations, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)
What’s better, really, than sipping a wonderful glass of wine in a beautiful vineyard with music playing in the background? Not many things come to mind. Because appealing to the five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch all at one time is difficult to do. And yet, wineries across America are doing it in their own unique ways. They hold events that not only pair their reds and whites with great food, but with a special blend of music curated to keep their visitors coming back for more. Whether it’s a live performance outside in the vineyard on a spectacular day, or recorded music playing softly in a tasting room on a rainy afternoon, music adds just the right element for visitors and staff alike.
Arrington Vineyards, photo credit: Emily Cropsey
I recently spoke with Ryan Turek, manager of Arrington Vineyards in Tennessee, about what prompted their decision to add “Music in the Vines,” two free live music options that run every Saturday and Sunday from April through October. “We are surrounded by many great local musicians with ‘Music City’ being in our backyard! We would be crazy not to take advantage of the great talents surrounding us. Our guests stay longer to enjoy free live music, wine country views, breathtaking sunsets, great food and award-winning wine. It’s a win-win!”
Part of the popular experience, which attracts both locals and out-of-town visitors, includes “Bluegrass in the Barn” and “Jazz in the Courtyard,” allowing guests a chance to customize their experience while enjoying the many different outstanding offerings the innovative vineyard provides. In addition, Arrington, which was originally started by Kix Brooks of the legendary country music duo Brooks and Dunn, along with master vintner Kip Summers, with entrepreneur John Russell joining later, hosts other free events during the week: “Cigar Nights” and ‘FoodTruck Fridays,” both of which also feature live jazz and draw impressive crowds.
Barbara & Kix Brooks, Carol & John Russell, Valerie & Kip Summers (owners of Arrington Vineyards), photo credit: Erin McCraffrey
But live music isn’t available only in “Music City”; there are hundreds of musicians and songwriters throughout the country who perform in wineries, offering both their own music and cover tunes. So, what about the licensing fees involved with playing music publicly? Getting permission to play a songwriter’s music before a business plays it is required by U.S. Copyright Law, as well as global laws in most other countries. These laws serve to protect a songwriter’s work and encourage them to continue creating music. How? By entitling them to payment when their songs are publicly played by businesses that benefit from the performances, whether it’s live, recorded, streamed, on TVs or radios, or played through any other means.
All performing rights organizations, which are recognized in the law to license music, streamline the permission-granting process by offering blanket music licenses that cover the use of all the songs the PRO represents, including the work of songwriters that play their own music live. This way businesses don’t have to take on the daunting task of trying to get permission from songwriters themselves. These licenses both protect businesses from copyright infringement and enable songwriters and composers to make a living at their craft of creating music for all of us to enjoy and benefit from.
If you’re thinking about pairing music with your own unique vintages but are concerned about paying public performance fees, here’s some good news: there are hefty discounts available depending on how and when you pay your fee, what type of music use you have, and whether you’re a member of a participating association, such as Wine Institute, which is based in California, or the Virginia Wineries Association. At BMI, a music license can cost as little as $370 per year – that’s only a little more than a $1 per day- depending on the size of the establishment, the type of music being played (recorded, live, DJ, karaoke), and how often that music is performed (once a week, once a month, etc.).
These added perks make it possible to save money, while gaining the clearance you need. So, don’t let copyright requirements stop you from letting your visitors take in all your winery has to offer. Turn the music up and don’t let your guests down.